Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 78 – It’s Time For Your Calendar Audit

Dear Leaders, this week’s newsletter is here to save some of your sanity and time. 

Do you look at your calendar with pure dread? 

I bet you have signed off or left a meeting and think – this was a massive waste of time? 

There are two options you have:
(1) Take that your time is taken from you 😞
(2) Actually take action and do something about it 💪

An important step many executives do not take is actually reviewing and scoring meetings. 

Busy is not a badge of honour and should never be an excuse.

Many leave meetings with a sour taste in their mouth, often mentally noting that a colleague or two are good or bad (or worse need to leave the business) and then having to recover from MRS (meeting recovery syndrome). 

There is an action (much more than a hack) to help save your sanity and review your calendar to make a real difference. 

This will take an hour’s work to save ten’s of hours in the coming weeks and months. 

A Calendar Audit 📅

  1. Review your calendar: look back over the last six weeks  
  2. Colour code the meetings into group meetings, recurring meetings and one to one’s 
  3. Create a meeting scoring system. 1-10 (10 being great, 1 being worst) – the maths is an important dimension here 
  4. Flag and review any recurring meetings first.
    Score these meetings, use: 
    (1) effectiveness for work, (2) time efficiencies and (3) participation levels as success factors.
  5. Review group meetings and project meetings, please then score accordingly 
  6. Review 1:2:1’s particularly on how successful you were either as the leader or the participant
  7. Fire up Excel or Google sheets and score the meetings in groups, you will see many patterns. 
    There is a common theme here, important notes and keep scores
  8. Review your notes from these meetings and really be self-critical and critical of meetings and drive change. Always provide feedback and look to reduce meetings. 
  9. Understand if you need to keep meetings, cure meetings or kill meetings.
    You should not only edit and audit your time but provide people’s time back. This is a huge gift!
  10. Feedback the information, kill or cure meetings and reorganise the time and save the energy of your colleagues. 

You will be surprised by the benefit to performance and the positive impact on company culture this will have. 

Remember The Focus Rules For Meetings: 

  1. Always call out why this meeting should not have been an email 
  2. Set an agenda 
  3. Explain why each meeting attendee was invited and how they can add value 
  4. At the beginning of the meeting remind what the objective of the meeting is and what success looks like 
  5. Have a chairperson taking notes and keeping you to agree on timeframe 
  6. Have the chairperson call out what the notes were, what the decisions were and what the follow-up actions are and by when 
  7. Always provide time for meeting feedback and if the meeting is able to finish early, enable everyone to have their time back 

Good luck rolling this framework out, it will take a couple of attempts to really hit your stride, in the near future you will be able to have open and honest conversations and save many hours of wasted time and negative time use. 

Have a great week,

Danny Denhard 

Two Other Proven Methods

Here is the hybrid guide to remote meetings chapter that will drive improvements to your meetings and your business. 

Look to roll out the NDA meeting framework for taking notes, logging decisions and the actions you and the team need to take.  

Business Performance

The Focus 5×5 Quarterly Matrix

There has been a huge shift towards automated dashboards over the last five years. 

Dashboards have been placed on TV sets across the office, set up on secondary monitors, shortcuts on toolbars and shared across businesses to understand the health of a business and being able to understand what has happening or happening now. 

Dashboards can have huge upsides, however, there are downsides. 

Automated without insights are just numbers on a screen. Dashboards are rarely in real-time and are often difficult for many businesses to surface and display the most important information to staff as the data is not available to query, stored in different datastores and regularly without commentary and insights blindly suggests performance is good, bad or ugly. 

Dashboards can be positive, they can help the staff to follow the company compass, it can help to shift private data to open and transparent data and assists to shift key units from defaulting to siloed to being open and having discussions around workstreams, roadmaps and campaigns.  

Enter The Focus 5×5 

In the business world, we can often joke about the importance of a 2×2 matrix, we can make incredibly important decisions based on the positioning on a 2×2. 

The simpler the information, the simpler the format, the more successful information becomes within businesses.  

The focus 5×5 matrix are the five most important indicators of performance with  five lines to help everyone understand which campaigns are being worked on, the five biggest internal and external threats, the five product enhancements that are being made to your own product, the five ideas submitted and under review by the business and the five goals you have   


  • Strategic campaigns the company is working on 
  • Be explicit on owners, deadlines and what needles these will move. 


  • The 5 biggest issues we are facing (risks) 
  • Be explicit on what it impacts, who will be looking after these issues and when you will feedback and update 


  • The 5 product roadmap rolling out this quarter 
  • Be explicit on deadlines, owners and when will be released to customers. 


  • The 5 ideas submitted by the team to improve problems. 
  • Be explicit on who’s idea these were, when they will be re-reviewed when they will have an expected build date. 


  • The 5 Goals we have this quarter 
  • Be explicit about what the goals are, who owns the goals and when you are expecting impact. 

You should have accountability on the 5×5 by including when the Focus 5×5 matrix was last updated and who last updated the matrix. 

Must be 

  • Linked to company goals presentation/documentation and be updated weekly (one owner higher recommended) 
  • Open to all (members of staff) 
  • Open for comments and questions (from members of staff) 
  • Linked to the decision document – help the wider business understand how the most important decisions were made 
  • Linked to the previous quarterly matrixes & quarterly business review – this is important for new joiners to have a record and comparison to last quarters information 
  • Linked to strategic plans (1 year is action, 3 years is planning, 5 years is thinking on an annual review cycle): 
    • STP – the short term plan – 1 year ahead 
    • MTP – the mid-term plan – 3 years ahead 
    • LTP – from 5+ year plan 

If you have a company-wide meeting weekly like a weekly all-hands standup, this is a great format to run through and review, with departments feeding in updates and most important changes to their departments and disciplines. 

3 Areas To Consider Including: 

  1. If you could like to include your mission and vision headline statements your 5×5 can include these as headings 
  2. If you would like to include five behaviours that make your company culture successful, consider including them as a dividing header 
  3. If you would like to call out department of the week or unsung hero of the week, you can add these in weekly. 

Rolling out a new way of working and providing insights can take four to six weeks of planning, creation and introducing a new habit for the company leaders to follow, it is however an important tried and tested formula to improve your internal communication and performance.

Want another invaluable resource?

The decision document will help explain and centralise decision-making across your organisation.

Important Related Resources To Improve Company Performance

Anonymous Career Advice

How To Get Back On Track

In this week’s anonymous career advice column, we tackle:

How do you get back on track when you feel like you have lost focus?

This is something many of us struggle with on a weekly basis, even someone who prides themselves on focus and productivity we all have times where we get off track or lose our focus and need different methods and techniques to combat “focus fatigue”.  

Short Term 

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 44 – Risk Vs Benefit Framework

Risk Vs Benefit Framework

April 12th 2021

Dear leaders,

In my previous leaders letters, frameworks have been some of the most popular newsletters and most replied to newsletters. 

This week I wanted to introduce you to different pros vs con’s list I have used for a number of years that helped me to make better decisions, professionally and personally. 

Risk vs Benefit framework enables you to breakdown big decisions and questions in a repeatable framework.



You have two options.

Are you pen and pad or type and table? 

Pen and Pad: Write down on paper, half an a4 sheet, risks one side, benefit the other. 

Type and Table: Or in a table, excel, sheets, notion, apple apps and write down and explain in detail. 

Risk – Anything you face as a risk, anything that could be put at risk or a big red flag that needs to be called out. 

Benefit – Anything that will benefit you, the team, the company.

The more detail you include, the better in helping you to understand the first, second and third-order effects of your decision and the better decisions you ultimately make.

Simple yet effective. 

I tend to keep these risks vs benefit tables and revisit, optional but connected to micro-moments and making better long term decisions.  

This week, take a look at the risk vs benefit framework and consider how you will make better, more informed decisions. 

Have a great week and thanks for the recent replies to the newsletters.

Danny Denhard

3 Recent Must Reads

  1. Is it time for an off-site?
  2. Culture As A Service Movement
  3. Why The World Of Work Is Broken
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 38 – One Problem Two Solutions Framework

One Problem Two Solutions Framework 

March 1st 2021.

Dear leaders, pinch punch, it’s the first of the month.

Something that has always stood me in good stead is frameworks. 

Frameworks help guide, shape and develop ideas and importantly, solutions. 

Problems arise every day.
Problems aren’t always straight forward or easy. Especially in framing and attacking them. 

Every business I have worked in or with have had a small number of frameworks that help shape the business. 

Fortunately (or unfortunately) they tend to be spreadsheet-based or out of date PowerPoint templates. 

For every problem, there are multiple solutions but it can be difficult to understand how to present the multiple options. 

However, attempting to show you have understood and know how to address the problem often requires more than one solution.
Creating a shopping list of solutions is rarely the answer.

Time and preciseness are key when you are presenting options to a senior leader especially those who have a c-suite title. 

A framework I stumbled upon a number of years ago was when presented with a particularly challenging problem, was one problem two solutions. I use it regularly and have shared it many times in recent months.

The trick is to frame the problem and then offer the solution you put forward and a second to show you have thought through any potential push backs. 

Like army-style bottom line up front emails, frame the problem, offer the solution and then detail(s). Always lead with the recommended and then offer the back up further down. The more you use this framework, the wider it is adopted and used.

I learnt from Coca Cola and Amazon execs that “flexibility within a framework” really helps with many problems, especially when you are customer-centric and have specific problems to solve for multiple stakeholders. 

So this week try and offer the one problem two solutions framework to your team.

Your one problem, two solutions that could be used in email or in project tool.

Offer the opportunity to show off their workings out and present their recommended solution first and if required ask them to present their second choice.
Being deliberate and presenting the problem with precise communications will always improve problem-solving and personal development.

Have a great week and solve those problems,


Danny Denhard

Related Frameworks